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'Cloc-tal' - a fractal design that visualizes the passage of time

- Jeffrey Ventrella (
July 15 at 12:30 pm

Abe Lincoln's death date
New Year's eve

November 15 at 9:50 am

Fractal Clocks
There are many examples throughout history of images depicting the passage of time, where several scales of time are shown. Rudy Rucker says that "Life is a fractal in Hilbert space". We experience time as events inside of events, and we measure it accordingly. The hands of a traditional clock rotate at different rates. Some recent examples of computer-animated fractal timepieces, such as Mayoff's Fractal Clock, are shown here...

How the Cloctal Works
The Cloctal is not meant to be read like a standard clock, which tells you the exact time of day. It an impressionistic fractal view of the passage of time. Unlike traditional clocks, which have rotating hands, the Cloctal has several pairs of revolving circles. Starting with the big circle in the middle, two smaller circles branch off, and from those circles, two smaller ones branch off, and so on. The difference in size among branching circles is the famous Golden Ratio.

Each recursive level of circles represents a specific scale of time. There are six:

Year     Month     Day     Hour     Minute     Second

Besides the central circle, there are 2 'year' circles, 4 'month' circles, 8 'day' circles, 16 'hour' circles, 32 'minute' circles, and 64 'second' circles. Each pair of circles revolves according to its time scale. For instance, the smallest circles revolve every second. The circles that they are revolving around are themselves revolving every minute. And so on. If you watch closely for one minute, you can see the minute circles make a complete revolution.

Every night at 12:00 midnight, the second, minute, and hour circles of the Cloctal will all line up vertically, creating a distinct pattern. Stay up late one night and you will catch a glimpse of this moment. Better yet: do it on New Year's eve (that's when all of the circles line up vertically).

The Cloctal looks different every second, every minute, every hour, every day, and every month of the year. If you take a snapshot of the Cloctal right now, you will have a reference for what it will look like exactly one year from now.

The Cloctal uses colors to depict time. In the winter months, the year and month circles have colors on the cool end of the spectrum, and they shift to yellow in the springtime. Then in the summer, the colors shift to orange. In the autumn, the colors shift to brown, then purple, and then to a dark blue by December. The other circles have their own color coding, with the start of the cycle being dark, and then shifting to a light color in mid-cycle.

The background color is dark blue-gray at midnight, and light blue at noon.

You can use the Cloctal as a sort of Mandala - a visual place to rest your mind and meditate. Like slowly-changing music, or the changes in cloud patterns, you will experience subtle shifts. This is the fractal texture of time.


Book by Susie Vrobel